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Widespread use of mobile health devices pose certain risks

May 24, 2012
Uncategorized By LW Consulting Inc.

Mobile devices may seem nearly omnipresent in today's world, as those who are without smartphones or tablets may not be as in touch with ever-evolving information. In the medical field, these devices are valuable to facilities and patients, assuming HIPAA violations are not a direct result of their misuse.

A Brookings Institution report - "How Mobile Devices Are Transforming Healthcare" - mentions savings that can be derived from the use of health monitoring devices over the next quarter century. These savings may amount to as much as $197 billion. Such devices will allow patients to monitor their own health developments and provide doctors with a steady stream of patient information that can be used to administer treatments and avoid common medical errors or ineffective procedures.

Hospital CIOs are increasingly turning to bring-your-own-device initiatives as a means of saving costs and making the management of business-related communications more convenient for its workers.

Despite their tremendous upside, the regular use of mobile devices in a healthcare setting may also compromise patient information or lead to a facility receiving fines if it is found to be complicit in the leak. The Department of Homeland Security (HHS) recently released a notice to hospitals, imploring them to secure mobile devices used in their facilities. Fortunately, CIOs have options when it comes to protecting data their facilities are responsible for.

"Instant connectivity of these devices to the internet or a Health Information System (HIS) ... could be compromised if not protected with the latest anti-virus and spyware," according to the DHS notice. "[Medical devices] like smartphones and tablets are mini-computers with instant access to the internet or linked directly to a hospital's network. The device or the network could be infected with malware designed to steal medical information."

Healthcare facility managers can turn to a healthcare IT consulting service to determine the best strategies for preventing security glitches, be it through technology advancements or more strict protocol for mobile device usage.